Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Pregnancy

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Pregnancy

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By Bourn Hall Fertility Centre , IVF Speciality

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is characterized by the growth of tiny cysts (or sac-shaped structures) on the ovaries which become enlarged as a result of this disorder. It also results in excess androgen secretion in women. Since androgen is a “male hormone”, which causes muscle mass and body hair in men, presence of the same hormone in excess amounts in women can bring about the same consequences. Furthermore, PCOS meddles with ovulation (discharge of ovules from ovary), disrupts the normal menstrual cycle resulting in erratic periods and poses a lot of complications during pregnancy.

How does PCOS contribute to problems during pregnancy?

  1. Miscarriage- Women suffering from PCOS become more vulnerable to miscarriages during the initial months of pregnancy as compared to other women. Miscarriage is the loss of fetus prior to the completion of 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  2. Gestational Diabetes- This type of diabetes develops only during pregnancy due to the sugar build up caused by the hormones regulated by placenta (organ nourishing the fetus). Nevertheless, the condition can be kept under control and eventually subsides with the baby’s birth. However, the baby born in this case can be of an abnormally large size, be prone to breathing difficulties and suffer from low blood sugar. Additionally, both the mother and the child are likely to develop Diabetes Type 2 (resulting from insulin resistance) in their later lives.
  3. High Blood Pressure- PCOS results in high blood pressure during pregnancy, which if not taken care of at the right time, can worsen, thus affecting delivery.
  4. Preeclampsia- It is marked by a sudden rise in the blood pressure count following 20 weeks of pregnancy, which takes a toll on the mother’s brain functioning, liver and the kidneys. If left untreated, this can aggravate to cause seizures, organ damage and even, death, in some cases.
  5. Preterm Birth- This is a condition wherein the baby is born prematurely; i.e. prior to the completion of the 37th week of pregnancy. Premature birth might be the reason for many life-threatening health complications for the child.
  6. C-Section or Cesarean Delivery- Gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and other PCOS-related complications generate the need to go for a C-section delivery. It, being a surgical procedure, takes a longer recovery time than vaginal birth and may carry potential threats for both the mother and the baby.

Researchers are yet to confirm whether ‘metformin’, an insulin-sensitization drug can alleviate pregnancy issues associated with PCOS to some extent.